171 ROH Final Battle 2007 12/30/2007
ROH 171 – Final Battle 2007 – 30th December 2007
So it’s the final show in another eventful year for Ring Of Honor, and the card for this, the last show of 2007, is absolutely stacked. There is absolutely masses to look forward to. Headlining the show is the Briscoes putting their Tag Team Championship on the line against the Age Of The Fall in what should be a cracker. There’s also Roderick Strong defending the FIP Title against perennial foe Erick Stevens. The Hangman 3 face a collective of their enemies in what promises to be a wild Tables Match. We’ve also got a potential crazy clash of styles with Jack Evans facing Necro Butcher, Davey Richards and Naomichi Marufuji in a first time match, Claudio Castagnoli finally getting a match with Larry Sweeney and a whole host of hijinx surrounding Nigel McGuinness and the chasing pack for his World Title. For the final time this year lets get down to it. Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard call the action. Once again we’re in the Manhattan Center in NYC.
ROH VIDEO WIRE (13/12/07) – See Rising Above (ROH170) review for details
The show opens with shots of Austin Aries looking absolutely inconsolable after his defeat in last night’s World Title match. He refuses an interview.
Elsewhere Jay and Mark Briscoe are much more accommodating of super-hot Rebecca Bayless. They seem more redneck than usual and I can’t understand a word they say.
Matt Cross/Bobby Fish vs Ruckus/Jigsaw
Ordinarily it’s pretty difficult to find something to say by way of an introduction to these rather needless jobber/filler matches that tend to populate the undercard of ROH shows. However, this one actually intrigues me a little bit. Cross and Ruckus are very good at flying around, whilst Jigsaw and Fish have enough technical ability to hold the match together. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting these guys to set the world on fire. I’m just saying I’d rather watch this than the ROH school graduates.
Jigsaw and Fish get things going at a decent pace and get a round of applause for their efforts. Ruckus tags in and the fan response would suggest he’s the most over guy in the match. He backflips into a headscissors on M-Dogg who lands on his feet. Not to be out-done, Ruckus shows he can land on his feet from a headscissors as well. Tope suicida from Jigsaw as Ruckus and Fish brawl on the floor…and Cross follows him out with a dive as well. Fish gets 2 on Jig with a running powerslam. Hot tag to Ruckus who flips around into an assortment of kicks on his opponents. Bobby almost decapitates Jigsaw with a wild flying knee strike. M-Dogg scores a 2 with his springboard double stomp. Neckbreaker into a falcon arrow from Fish to Jigsaw. Fisherman buster/powerbomb combo from the Vultures. Jig’n’Tonic on Fish wins it for their team at 07:59
Rating – ** – More grounded than I thought it would be, and that’s not a bad thing. I’ve got no real interest in seeing Cross anymore (he’s been in ROH for a year and hasn’t changed at all, and hence his once exciting aerial spots are a little tired now) and Fish seems very generic in the few outings we’ve seen…but they worked as a good foil for the Vultures, who as always, looked a lot more fun in little tag matches like this than they ever seem in singles bouts.
Larry Sweeney vs Claudio Castagnoli
This is a match a year in the making. It was Final Battle 2006 when Chris Hero chose to break up the Kings Of Wrestling tag team with Double C and forge a singles career under the guidance of Sweeney. Since then Castagnoli has held a severe grudge against Sweet’n’Sour. Sweeney has managed to stay ahead of Claudio at every turn thus far, but Castagnoli looks like he’ll finally get his man tonight.
Or does he? Sweeney makes his entrance to the ring still dressed in his usual casual suit – no hint of any wrestling gear. He tries to claim that Castagnoli is injured after Daniel Puder’s leg vice on him last night, but Claudio limps out and demands the match. He’s even got a contractual right to it. Tank Toland chopblocks Claudio’s bad knee before the bell rings, ensuring that the casually dressed Larry Sweeney starts in the ascendancy. Lots of cheating and outside interference from Bobby Dempsey, Tank Toland, Sara Del Rey and Daniel Puder (all at ringside) ensues. Castagnoli looks for the Riccola Bomb but Tank distracts the official whilst Puder sneaks in and cracks Castagnoli in the leg with Toland’s ‘work-out stick’ (Dave Prazak’s words, not mine). Sweeney pins for the win at 02:30
Rating – ** – I’m not really sure how to rate this, as obviously it wasn’t a match as you’d typically expect. It was quite fun to see a bit of sports-entertainment on an ROH show though so it definitely scores points for that.
Sweet’n’Sour Inc. head for the back, Tank Toland excluded. He stays to try to put more of a beating on Claudio, and winds up the victim of the Riccola Bomb. In the back Larry Sweeney celebrates with Puder and Chris Hero.
Jack Evans vs Necro Butcher – No DQ Match
These two make a bizarre in-ring combination. Obviously this match is part of stable warfare, a storyline which is fast falling apart because it’s impossible to keep track of, has no visible creative direction other that ‘everyone hates everyone so we can book lots of random matches’, and no logical conclusion. Should be fun to watch Jack and his high-flying trickery try to bedazzle the rough, crude wrestling approach of the Necro Butcher.
The ease with which Necro floors Jack from the bell is simply brilliant. SOMERSAULT DROPKICK off the guardrail by Evans! Necro tears out one of the metal ‘ROH’ guardrail sheets, and seems to genuinely scare Jack as he wails away at him with it. Evans tries to come off the apron with a knee strike…but gets swiped right into the railings. Chair slam scores, and Necro keeps coming, lifting Evans by the throat and choking him. Bulldog into a stack of chairs gets Necro a 2. Jack tries to rally with a springboard from the apron…but gets PUNCHED IN THE FACE! He has been absolutely pummelled in this match, but still hooks Butcher up for a CODE RED OFF THE APRON! Back inside Evans hits a standing, chair-enforced moonsault then opens up the same chair to attempt a Phoenix splash. Necro punches him right in the mouth again and drops him with the Tiger Driver for 2. BACKBREAKER ON THE OPEN CHAIRS! Somehow Jack kicks out again. The back to back chairs are still set up…and Jack fights desperately to stop Necro dropping him onto them with a backbreaker from the second rope. Butcher lies prone over them…MOONSAULT LEG DROP! Jack lines up the 630…but Lacey comes into the ring to distract him. She then tries to start a fight with Julius Smokes. In all seriousness, please book Lacey vs J-Train. I’d love to see her beat him up. Mercedes Martinez runs into the ring and attacks her. Evans uses the distraction to pin Necro at 11:13
Rating – *** – Really fun match, and incredibly violent considering how early it is on the card. Both men were in top form and played their roles to perfection. The beating that Necro gave Evans in the early going was wild, and Evans played the underdog so well, with excellently-timed comebacks, great facials and at times genuine fear of what Necro might do to him. I didn’t like the finish though, and I don’t like the idea that Jack Evans can beat Necro Butcher, arguably the top death match worker in the US independent scene, regardless of how much outside distraction there was.
Even Julius Smokes doesn’t seem to understand what is happening. But Jack reveals that he’s recruited Mercedes to be the newest member of the Vulture Squad.
Davey Richards vs Naomichi Marufuji
This one could be a classic if they let these guys cut loose here. Both of them are so explosive and crisp in their offensive wrestling. Plus Marufuji is a seasoned professional at both Junior and Heavyweight level and definitely has the ability to draw a great match out of the impressive but sometimes a quite raw talent that is Davey Richards.
They bring the awesome in the first minute, drawing applause from the crowd after a wonderful exchange of surfboard stretches on the mat. Davey slaps Marufuji in the face, who soon responds in turn with a slap so aggressive it takes the American off his feet. Pace quickens as both men think fast and dodge an assortment of kicks thrown by their opponent. Maru takes the first advantage with a dragon screw against the middle rope. Shinbreaker scores and Marufuji applies the pressure with a Figure 4 Leglock. Richards frees himself and gets a real adrenaline rush, taking Marufuji down with a running STO. He slaps on a camel clutch, wearing down his opponent and buying himself some time to recover from the leg injury that Maru opened up. Cheeky low blow in the corner by Richards…so just as with the slap Marufuji responds with a little flick at the balls himself. Why more people don’t do that to Richards I don’t know. Capture suplex gets Marufuji a 2. Davey sends Marufuji all the way across the ring with a missile dropkick…then runs straight into Marufuji’s superkick. Handspring enzi countered with a dropkick right into Davey’s face. They fight on the apron…ALARM CLOCK TO THE FLOOR! Davey sprints across the ring…TWISTING TOPE SUICIDA! Richards ended up about 8 rows back in the crowd! Both men try to get back in, and not surprisingly considering Richards’ landing after that dive, it’s Fuji that gets the advantage with a springboard dropkick. BRIDGING GERMAN almost wins it for Richards. STRAIGHT JACKET GERMAN…TWO AGAIN! KIMURA!! Marufuji counters that into a pin and almost wins it himself. Shiranui blocked. DR Driver blocked. Davey looks for a Tombstone but Marufuji wriggles free. SHIRANUI! Marufuji wins in 15:11
Rating – **** – In many ways this match sums up why I enjoy watching Ring Of Honor so much. How many times have you ordered a WWE pay-per-view or sat through Raw or Smackdown and been left disappointed by the endless filler and skippable dross on the undercard? The way ROH just lets guys like these go out and have a hell of a match (no storyline behind it, just a straight up great match because it’s what people want to see) is what keeps me coming back and dropping cash on these shows. Absolutely loved this one. It got more intense and exciting with every minute that passed. I thought they dealt with the leg injury superbly well. Marufuji only worked on it for a minute or so, but Richards’ selling of the injury and the way he GRADUALLY shook the injury off was awesome. And some of the nearfalls were SO close at the end it was impossible to call. In the end it was such a good match people were actually chanting for Richards as hard as Marufuji. When you’re having a contest so good the ROH crowd stops caring who wins and just sits back and enjoys, you know you’re doing something right.
Rebecca Bayless has now found the darkest corner of the basement possible to interview the Age Of The Fall. Literally my TV looks like it’s been switched off the shot is so dark. Jimmy and Tyler promise to play by the rules and avoid the match descending into violence. They want the belts tonight.
Adam Pearce/Brent Albright/BJ Whitmer vs Kevin Steen/El Generico/Delirious – Tables Are Legal Match
This one could be quite insane as well. All of the Hangman 3’s enemies have banded together in this one, joining forces to bring down a common enemy. The Hangm3n angered Steen when they tried to recruit him to their faction, then attacked El Generico when he refused to join, whilst the issues between Delirious and themselves are long and well-documented.
Delirious is wearing the ANGRY red attire again tonight. His partners are all wearing matching black and red incidentally. Everyone pairs off with Pearce and Delirious slugging it out in the ring. They’re interrupted by Bushwhacker Luke, who comes out looking for some revenge for his attack at the hands of the Hangm3n at last night’s pay-per-view taping. All the babyfaces do the classic Bushwhacker march for comedy fun. Generico, in particular gets into the spirit of things. His march is classic. He plants both BJ and Albright into the corner with a big Yakuza kick. Steen shows off his power by Samoan dropping both of them at the same time. Back suplex through a table incapacitates Whitmer for a while. Albright flips and smashes a table in half by himself, much as he did during his Tables Match with Whitmer during the Fifth Year Festival. The NYC fans appreciated that, and he lays out Generico using half of the broken table as a weapon. The Hangm3n try to isolate the Generic Luchador, but Steen and Delirious eventually psych each other up to attempt a save. Albright launches Delirious through a table on the floor to put a stop to that and the heels continue to work Generico over. Back suplex/flying inverted DDT combo by Pearce and Whitmer whilst Albright positions a table in the corner. On the floor Shane Hagadorn has stacked a couple of tables as well. They HANG Generico Unscripted 3 style using a thin metal piece from the shattered table. He’s positioned on top of a table on the floor…but Delirious saves him with RED MIST! Meanwhile, Pelle Primeau makes his return to ROH and HURRICANRANAS HAGADORN THROUGH A TABLE! Absolutely disgusting Ocean Cyclone suplex by Albright cuts short Pelle’s triumphant return. Pearce thinks about splashing Delirious through a table…but gets shoved off the top and through a table by Generico. Whitmer with a frog splash through the table instead! Has Kevin Steen gone home? I haven’t seen him for ages. GENERICO BACK DROPS ALBRIGHT THROUGH A TABLE ON THE FLOOR! BJ grabs him…EXPLODER OVER THE TOP ROPE! Hey, Steen is back! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! Whitmer kicks out. Delirious and Pearce are climbing onto a table propped up over the turnbuckles. Pearce grabs Delirious…JUMPING PILEDRIVER THROUGH A TABLE! Holy sh*t!! The Hangm3n win at 18:23
Rating – *** – Utter carnage so it was obviously tons of fun to watch. In truth it probably went a little long, and had a few too many lulls where tables were being positioned for the next spot, but all six (well, eight if you include Primeau and Hagadorn too) put their bodies through hell and they deserve credit for it. I’m glad the Hangman 3 got the win here as this was probably as dominant and convincing as they’ve ever looked as a unit.
INTERMISSION – Becky Bayless heads into the Hangm3n locker room to get a word with the victorious team. They’re understandably jubilant, and Pearce uses the opportunity to fire some warning shots to Delirious ahead of their Dog Collar match at the next Chicago show.
Post-intermission Rocky Romero squashes Ernie Osiris in 01:08. I’ve heard a few grumblings about ROH finances in recent months. Nothing major, just that they need to tighten the purse strings. I’d suggest a way to do that would be to book less wrestlers. Was there any need to pay Romero to be there tonight? I doubt Ernie Osiris was developed much in this squash. Personally I don’t see the need for these wrestler vs graduate jobber popcorn post-intermission matches, but Gabe seems to have a penchant for them. If he’s going to do it, why not at least let 2 graduates go out there and have a few minutes in the ring to work off each other.
Next to the ring is Nigel McGuinness, who’s face is a real mess after his bloody battle with Austin Aries at Rising Above. He gets a surprisingly mixed reaction after what was a fantastic match last night. There’s a sizeable contingent chanting ‘drop the belt’ after sitting out yet another show tonight through injury. That’s unbelievably harsh, but it makes for an electric atmosphere. He refuses to forfeit the championship in a heartfelt promo.
Roderick Strong vs Erick Stevens – FIP Heavyweight Title Match
For anyone that has seen these two wrestle in FIP, or anyone who saw their match at Man Up, they’ll know that these two have real chemistry together. Stevens has received a decent level push since debuting earlier this year, but in truth, outstanding performances in singles matches haven’t been massively frequent. He’s a solid hand no doubt, but in Ring Of Honor, to break through to the next level and receive the kind of promotion he’s had, you need to be displaying a bit more than that. Just ask Roderick Strong, who’s been having really high-quality singles matches since 2005 but still hasn’t really broken through to the next level. These guys have been feuding since Stevens joined Austin Aries’ Resilience at This Means War 2, with Stevens, at this point, itching to get his hands on Strong.
Strong spits his gum at Stevens then quickly rolls out of the ring to avoid any kind of retribution. Big belly to belly suplex from Erick as they test each other out in the initial exchanges. A quick side slam follows that and Roderick has to go to the eyes to put a stop to the challenger. He drives his boot into the side of Stevens, then takes it outside to body slam him into the side of the ring. Grounded bear hug next as the champion starts to work on Erick’s midsection. SPRINGBOARD Sick Kick knocks Stevens off the apron and into the crowd barrier. Strong flies out after him with a corkscrew plancha. In the ring Roddy sets Stevens up prone in the corner, then drives his whole body into the ribs in torpedo like fashion. He peppers Stevens with his trademark chops…but amazingly the challenger gets a burst of strength and flattens him in the corner then a big powerslam. Diving shoulder tackle out of the corner and a full nelson slam both get Stevens a 2-count. Big superplex by Strong to deliver another massive blow to the ailing back of his challenger. Still Stevens manages to chop him to the floor. SHOULDER TACKLE OFF THE APRON! In-ring the TKO scores for 2. He thinks about the Doctor Bomb but doesn’t look like he has the strength in his back to do it. Big front slam instead. Roderick flies out of the corner with another Sick Kick, then lands Death By Roderick. Splash mountain into an Ace crusher for 2. He thinks about a Gibson Driver but gets driven through the ropes and out of the ring again. They fight up the aisle…GIBSON DRIVER ON THE RAMP! Remember this is an FIP Title match so there’s a 20-count on the floor. Stevens barely beats it back into the ring. Strong pummels him with chops…but Stevens completely no sells them. A pumphandle driver drops Stevens right on his neck, but that’s not enough to beat him either. Gibson Driver blocked and Stevens drops Strong on his face with a German suplex. He hits another German then a combo of lariats. DOCTOR BOMB! New champion at 21:01! Stevens finally beats Strong!
Rating – **** – That was draining to watch. Both men emptied the tanks slugging it out with each other in a hard-fought battle. It’s a shame this didn’t take place in FIP, not just because of the title change, but because I think the match would’ve been even better in front of a good crowd. Unfortunately in ROH, Erick just isn’t as over as a babyface, and consequently the crowd was pretty sullen for most of the match. I don’t think either guy was emotive or engaging enough with the crowd to turn this into an absolute classic. But for effort, and rigid, rugged story-telling you couldn’t fault them. This looked as it should, a real battle.
Chris Hero vs Austin Aries vs Bryan Danielson vs Takeshi Morishima
I believe Nigel McGuinness was originally scheduled to be defending the ROH World Title in the four corner match tonight. Unfortunately I can’t remember for the life of me who was brought into to replace him here. Anyway, this is a four corner match under elimination rules to determine the new #1 Contender for the belt. Given that Chris Hero is already scheduled for a title match in Dayton in early 2008 I’m not sure what he’s got to gain but what the hey. Aries (one of three former World Champions in thi match) looks noticeably agitated and frustrated after failing to win the belt last night. Elsewhere, will Danielson and Morishima be able to keep the animosity between them in check in order to focus on the #1 contender slot?
Bell rings and Danielson immediately starts choking Morishima. Is winning a title shot more important to these two than beating the snot out of each other? Mori drops him with a Bossman slam. Rather amusingly, Hero then blind tags Morishima so he can work over a fallen American Dragon. In the end Danielson absolutely clobbers him in the corner and makes the tag to Aries. Lenny Leonard reveals that Aries was the one not originally scheduled to be in the World Title match. Morishima mows down Aries using his raw power, before Hero once again blind tags in to get some licks in on a downed opponent. Aries fights back and Morishima comically refuses the tag so Hero gets pummelled. Mori tags Aries instead and completely no-sells Hero’s offence. Bobby Dempsey tries to get involved…so Morishima ass-strikes him off the apron. Danielson in, and he tries to use the ropes to pin Morishima. MASSIVE lariat flips Dragon through the air on his way to the canvas. Dragon and Austin unite to try to combat the massive Japanese athlete. KNEE STRIKE/MMA ELBOWS COMBO! Meanwhile Hero steals the show by doing rolling around the ring and posing in the background. DOUBLE BACK SUPERPLEX! REPEATED FACE STOMPING BY DRAGON! 450 SPLASH BY ARIES! All three men pin Morishima…and he’s eliminated at 10:36. Chris Hero tries to claim the credit and tries to celebrate with both his opponents. He then makes some enemies by attacking both of them. That can’t be smart can it?
He works over Austin, continually stopping to shunt Dragon off the apron. Aries tries to climb the ropes but gets back fisted all the way to the floor. Danielson tries a backflip…and gets caught with a CRAVAT BUSTER! But Aries sneaks in behind Hero (he’s still the legal man after all) and rolls him up for the 3 at 14:18. Hero is eliminated, and we’re down to two. Shades of the inaugural Survival Of The Fittest in 2004 now, as we’re left with Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson. They go right to the mat with some intense grappling exchanges reminiscent of their recent Best Of 3 Series. Aries looks for the Heat Seeking Missile…but Danielson side-steps it and shunts him into the crowd. SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT DIVE OF DEATH INTO THE FIFTH ROW! The problem with that move is that it takes much out of Dragon as it does his opponent, and Aries soon recovers to hit his running dropkick against the guardrail. Danielson looks for a back superplex…but Aries reverses into the mid-air crossbody for 2. Kick of Death…but the Brainbuster is blocked. Fierce tiger suplex from Danielson gets 2, but he holds the arms and floats into CATTLE MUTILATION!! MMA ELBOWS. Ares rolls out. KICK OF DEATH…BRAINBUSTER! HORNS OF ARIES! Danielson refuses to quit so Aries goes for his knee strikes. MMA ELBOWS…KNEE STRIKES…MMA ELBOWS…KNEE STRIKES! FOREARM DUEL…both guys are on their knees here! They trade slaps, MORE DUELLING ELBOWS AND KNEES! Triangle Choke on Double A! Aries refuses to quit! TRIANGLE CHOKE MMA ELBOWS! The referee stops it at 22:47
Rating – **** – That was a really good match, culminating with a scintillating ten minutes with Aries and Danielson pummelling each other into oblivion. Chris Hero held the first half of this match together and kept it entertaining with his comedy (much as he did on his way to victory at Survival Of The Fittest this year), and his antics really revved the crowd up for the thrilling finale. There was some nice touches in the early stages to continue the feud between Danielson and Morishima as well, without detracting from the main goal everyone had their eyes on – a match with Nigel McGuinness. Considering this one was tossed together at the last minute, with Aries not even scheduled to be in it initially, a really incredible effort.
Austin Aries looks inconsolable after this loss, and refuses Danielson’s offer of a handshake on his way out. His attitude after two high profile defeats this weekend could be something to keep an eye on.
In the back Erick Stevens congratulates himself on all his hard work, culminating in his FIP Heavyweight Championship win tonight.
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black – ROH Tag Title Match
This is arguably the hottest feud in ROH right now (although Dragon/Mori might have something to say about that). The Age Of The Fall made their debut statement at the expense of the Bricoes, and the faction/movement have been brawling with the Briscoes all over the ROH circuit ever since. Things went over the edge during a title match at the second night of Glory By Honor 6, when a Tag Title match was thrown out seconds after it began as Jay and Necro Butcher couldn’t restrain themselves from swinging chairs. ROH officials reminded both teams of the rules (well, via an interview with Becky Bayless) and of their insistency on seeing this match go to a finish. Lets go…
Daizee Haze and Lacey are in the champions and challengers corners respectively. Jay stomps a mudhole in Jacobs, prompting the AOTF leader to immediately tag out to his partner. Cannon ball senton off the apron by Mark takes Black out. Despite all the promises that both teams would follow the rules, it doesn’t stop the brawl spilling around ringside. BRISCOE BIEL ONTO THE RAMP! Jacobs took a really rough landing there, and already the official is threatening to throw the match out if they don’t get back to the ring. It’s back in there that the champions start to double team Black. In the top right corner of the screen you can see Lacey tending to Jimmy as he slowly crawls back up the aisle. Jimmy finally makes it back to the ring and hits a big spear to save Tyler from the springboard Doomsday Device. He seems to have shaken off the effects of the biel up the ramp and helps his partner isolate Jay and begin working him over. Tyler drives Jay into the corner, but the older Briscoe flatlines him into the turnbuckles. Mark comes in on fire and gets 2 with a springboard corkscrew splash. He tries a springboard moonsault press…but gets his balance taken from under him and tumbles into a tree of woe. Dropkick combo by Black and Jacobs whilst he lays prone. Jay press slams Jimmy all the way out of the ring as Tyler floors Mark with an inverted DDT. Tyler tries a springboard move but only succeeds in propelling himself into Mark’s urinage suplex. Jay blocks the Small Package Driver drives Black neck first into the canvas with a falcon arrow. A Jacobs neckbreaker prevents him from nailing the Jay Driller. They fight on the top rope until Tyler pulls Briscoe away. DOOMSDAY RANA for 2! Big boot/inverted DVD combo…THEN THE END TIME! Mark springboards OVER Tyler into a double stomp to break that. He gets 2 on Jimmy with a savage powerbomb. Cut-Throat Driver attempt but Tyler saves by chop-blocking the knee. BACK DROP TO THE FLOOR! Mark recovers…AND HELPS JAY HIT A F*CKING SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE OFF THE APRON! Tyler must be dead. CUT-THROAT DRIVER ON JACOBS! HE KICKS OUT AT 2! The Briscoes can’t believe it, but at least have Jimmy in a 2-on-1 situation. SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE! TYLER SAVES OUT OF NOWHERE! Mark looks for a Cut-Throat Driver from the top rope…AS TYLER POWERBOMBS JAY INTO THE GUARDRAILS! He helps his partner fight Mark on the top rope. AWESOME BOMB/AVALANCE CONTRA CODE COMBO! PHOENIX SPLASH BY BLACK! THAT’S THREE! The Briscoes finally lose the belts at 18:54
Rating – **** – The archetypal Briscoe-style tag match really. Lots of smooth tag team exchanges in the early going, little regard for who the legal man is, leading to an absolutely crazy last few minutes of spot-heavy action. It’s a tried and tested, easy to like formula, and there was no reason to mess with it here. And some of the stuff they were doing at the end there was just amazing. A great match for the Briscoes to sign off on what has been a memorable, historic (they’re now the longest reigning Tag Champions ROH has ever had), trail-blazing run with the belts. Ring Of Honor has been seen by a wider audience than perhaps ever before in 2007 thanks to the ppv deal and whatnot, and for all the legacies that guys like Danielson, Ki, Punk, Joe, Daniels, London, Homicide and more built, it was the Briscoes above everyone on the current roster today (and I include Dragon in that) who were chosen as the poster boys for ROH. They carried the promotion this year as much as Morishima, as much as Dragon, Nigel and more. They’ve made ROH stars out of Kevin Steen and El Generico and I genuinely believe they elevated the Tag Championship to a comparable level of importance to the World Title. It’ll be interesting to see how Black and Jacobs (who, by the way, really deserve this moment – their performances in recent months have been great) fare in taking the tag division forward.
Tape Rating – **** – Ring Of Honor closes 2007 with one of the best shows of the year. Nothing reached the MOTYC heights of Nigel/Aries from last night, but this was just wall to wall good wrestling. From two dynamic garbage brawls, terrific straight-up wrestling matches in Stevens/Strong and Richards/Marufuji, the hugely entertaining elimination fourway to the memorable Tag Title change to end the show – everything just clicked. I really can’t recommend this show strongly enough.
Top 3 Matches
3) Naomichi Marufuji vs Davey Richards (****)
2) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black (****)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Austin Aries vs Chris Hero vs Takeshi Morishima (****)
Top 5 Final Battle Weekend Matches
5) Roderick Strong vs Erick Stevens (**** – Final Battle 2007)
4) Naomichi Marufuji vs Davey Richards (**** – Final Battle 2007)
3) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black (**** – Final Battle 2007)
2) Bryan Danielson vs Austin Aries vs Chris Hero vs Takeshi Morishima (**** – Final Battle 2007)
1) Nigel McGuinness vs Austin Aries (****1/2 – Rising Above)